November 11, 2012
Santon primed for duo's return
Team Stat Comparison
|Newcastle United||West Ham United|
|Goals for *||1.3||0.6|
|Goals against *||1.6||1.6|
|Last 5 home||L-L-L-W-W||W-D-W-D-W|
|Last 5 away||W-D-D-L-L||L-L-D-D-L|
|* Goals per match - home matches for home club and away matches for away club|
|Stats: Newcastle United | West Ham United|
|Newcastle United||West Ham United|
|12/14||H: Southampton||12/14||H: Sunderland|
|12/21||A: Crystal Palace||12/21||A: Manchester United|
|12/26||H: Stoke City||12/26||H: Arsenal|
|12/29||H: Arsenal||12/28||H: West Bromwich Albion|
|1/1||A: West Bromwich Albion||1/1||A: Fulham|
Davide Santon and his defensive colleagues have been put on red alert as Andy Carroll and Kevin Nolan head back to Newcastle.
The pair, who proved so destructive in black and white shirts as the Magpies fought their way back into the Barclays Premier League, are now back in harness at West Ham, who visit St James' Park on Sunday.
They will need no introduction to the current crop of Newcastle players, and full-back Santon knows stopping them could prove the key to the home side's chances of extending their five-game unbeaten run in all competitions.
The 21-year-old Italian said: "West Ham will be a difficult game. They have some good players.
"They have Andy Carroll and Kevin Nolan, so we have to be careful.
"It is very important for us to win the game. We are only playing for a win.
"We have to stop them. We know they are coming here to score. However, we know we have a great defence here. We have a great team and we can stop them.''
Carroll and Nolan both left the club in controversial circumstances, the former in exchange for a staggering £35million from Liverpool and the latter after his hopes of securing a new long-term deal were dashed.
But while midfielder Nolan has gone from strength to strength at Upton Park, where he arrived in June last year, Carroll has joined him by a circuitous route.
The 23-year-old found himself surplus to requirements at Anfield in the wake of new manager Brendan Rodgers' appointment and, having been linked with a move back to Newcastle, eventually joined the Hammers on loan for the season in August.
But while both played key roles during their time on Tyneside, Alan Pardew's men have gone from strength to strength since their respective departures and finished fifth in the league last season to earn a return to European football.
Indeed, they very nearly gatecrashed the top four and the race for Champions League qualification, and that remains an ambition.
Santon said: "Last year, we had a really big chance to get there.
"We finished fifth in the end, but we have a very good team and have a good chance of getting there.
"We just have to get back into the winning mentality every game.
"We are in a great position to move forward.''
Pardew will be without key men Fabricio Coloccini and Cheick Tiote through suspension, while full-back Danny Simpson remains a doubt with a shoulder problem.
Mike Williamson, who was withdrawn early from the 2-2 draw at the Jan Breydel Stadion, will start alongside Steven Taylor, who replaced him, in central defence, while Jonas Gutierrez, Hatem Ben Arfa and Demba Ba are likely to return.
Midfielder Mohamed Diame is hoping he can use his knowledge on Newcastle's key men to help the Hammers.
Diame, 25, has impressed since moving to Upton Park in the summer from Wigan as Sam Allardyce's side have defied the odds to sit ninth in the table.
"After the game against Wigan, I think we needed to have this reaction against Manchester City. We did it, so now we have to maintain that and take the three points from Newcastle,'' he told the club's official website.
"There are a lot of fans there and it is a big stadium. I have some friends there, both Senegalese and Frenchmen, so it's going to be a good game.
"I know Demba and Papiss very well and I also know that they have scored a lot of goals. We have to make sure we don't give them a lot of chances to score.
"They are different players, but they both work every day in front of the goal and are strikers who know how to score, so we have to try to restrict their chances.''
Midfielder Diame has also spent time playing alongside Magpies' play-maker Hatem Ben Arfa.
"I was in Clairefontaine with him so I know he is a very good player,'' he said.
"He has had a lot of injuries, but he is a very good player so we have to be careful about him as well.''
Diame pinpointed the performance against Manchester City in the goalless draw at Upton Park last weekend as a yard-stick for the challenge ahead on Tyneside.
"We are just going to go there and try to replicate the game we played against Manchester City,'' he said.
"These are the games I enjoy and I am sure it will be the same for Andy (Carroll) and Kevin Nolan as well. It is going to be a good game and we are going to enjoy it and hopefully get the three points.''